In Jim Cook's Archive


In 1984, I paid to bring two groups of six kids from Ethiopia to get their hearts fixed. The necessary surgery was too complicated for Ethiopian hospitals. They were weak and sick when they arrived and the prognosis was not good. Ten days after their surgery they were racing around the hospital and bouncing off the walls. They were beautiful kids. Before they went back to Ethiopia, my wife and I took them to Toys-R-Us and let them buy two toys to take home with them.

However, one ten-year-old boy could not go back. He needed a pacemaker, and they did not have the technology in Ethiopia to periodically check it. When asked what he would like to do he said, “I’d like to live with the Cooks.” Consequently, we took him into our home and eventually adopted him. When he grew up, he married a lovely girl from Eritrea (a country boarding Ethiopia). Her father was a senior airline mechanic for Northwest Airlines. The family had fled Ethiopia after being persecuted by the communist dictator Mengistu. Our pay-off is that we now have two beautiful granddaughters, 10 and 12, who are excelling in school. I give them $5 for every A they get on their report cards, and they don’t hesitate to let me know what I owe them. They and four other grandkids are visiting us in Florida this week. I told the neighbor to get some earplugs.

Naturally, I got to know some other Ethiopian people that live in Minnesota. The other day, when I was getting off the plane in Minneapolis, one of the workers grabbed me and gave me a hug. A few years ago, we helped him get his young son here and reunited the family. All of the Ethiopians I have met have jobs and are successful. Among them are entrepreneurs and professionals. They appreciate America and the opportunity it gave them for a better life.

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